The term "halal marketing" refers to a moral approach to advertising and selling goods and services that are under Islamic law and hence suitable for the religious requirements of Muslims across the world. It goes beyond profit by demanding marketers to always act ethically and legally. Muslim tourists seeking culturally mindful and faith-aligned experiences are driving Halal marketing and the travel industry.
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) advocated for honest, transparent, and equitable commercial practices. The hadith states, "The buyer and the seller have the option of canceling or confirming the bargain unless they separate, and if they spoke the truth and made clear the defects of the goods, then they would be blessed in their bargain, and if they told lies and hid some facts, their bargain would be deprived of Allah's blessings (Sahih al-Bukhari 2110, Book 34, Hadith 63)" supports the practice of Halal marketing.
Products and services that adhere to Islamic principles and values are promoted via halal marketing, also called Shari'ah-compliant marketing. In contrast to mainstream advertising, "Halal" denotes actions that are both lawful and ethical according to Islamic law. It is acknowledged that Haram, the antonym of Halal, refers to Islamically prohibited behaviors. Halal marketing ensures that the whole marketing process follows Shari'ah guidelines by adhering to halal business practices and avoiding haram activities.
Islamic jurisprudence provides a thorough foundation for the sources of law that Halal merchants and consumers must follow. Firstly, the most important source is the Quran, which provides divine advice on what is allowed and what is prohibited. Furthermore, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) serve as a complement to the teachings of the Quran and provide real-life instances of moral behavior. Finally, representing a collective understanding drawn from Islamic research, the agreement of Muslim scholars is vital, especially when dealing with modern problems not directly addressed in the Quran or traditions. There must be a balance between religious beliefs and civic duties, and the laws of the land must be respected, so long as they do not contradict the moral guidelines established by Allah. By covering all bases, this method promotes a dedication to doing what is right and maintaining honesty in business transactions, which are essential components of Halal marketing.
In the realm of halal tourism, the product dimension involves navigating the Halal-Haram (permissible and forbidden) divide in travel offerings. This requires meticulous attention to ensure that accommodations, attractions, and services align with Islamic principles. For example, a Muslim-friendly hotel may not only offer prayer facilities but also ensure that the food served adheres strictly to halal dietary requirements, providing a holistic and compliant travel experience. Simultaneously, avoid all non-halal products and activities like alcohol, pork, gambling, pornography, and others.
Price considerations in halal tourism go beyond profit margins; they encompass balancing financial sustainability with the economic burden on customers. Halal-friendly businesses may adopt pricing strategies that consider the economic challenges faced by Muslim travelers. Offering discounts during peak travel seasons or implementing cost-cutting measures demonstrates a commitment to easing the financial burden on customers while maintaining a sustainable business model. For example, halaltrip.com promotes several halal travel deals for fellow travelers to enhance their Muslim-friendly travel experiences.
In halal tourism, the ethical distribution of services is vital. This involves ensuring that travel services are distributed through fair and ethical channels, adhering to Islamic principles. For instance, travel agencies could prioritize transparency in their dealings, following the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), who emphasized honesty and openness in transactions, thereby fostering trust in the distribution process.
Halal tourism promotion involves disseminating information responsibly and ethically. Businesses should avoid over-promising and, instead, focus on providing accurate and practical information to potential Muslim travelers. This aligns with Islamic teachings that prohibit deceptive practices. For instance, a halal-friendly destination marketing campaign should highlight authentic features and services, ensuring that promises made to travelers are kept.
In halal tourism, the entire supply chain, from planning to execution, must adhere to Shari’ah principles. This covers all aspects, including transportation, lodging, and entertainment. For instance, a travel agency could make sure that a vacation package includes halal food, separate areas for men and women, and services that are supplied ethically to adhere to Shari'ah law.
The people aspect of halal tourism emphasizes building customer satisfaction through ethical and respectful interactions. Tour guides and hotel staff working directly with customers must learn about Muslim customs. This makes Muslim travelers feel welcome and protected, following the teachings of the Prophet (ﷺ) on dignity and justice in business.
Crafting a halal-friendly physical environment involves designing service spaces that accommodate Muslim travellers’ needs. Spaces for prayer, halal food, and gender segregation are all examples of what may fall under this category. An airport that wants to cater to Muslims may, for instance, make sure that there are prayer rooms, halal food choices, water-friendly washrooms, and thoughtful design aspects that are in line with Islamic values so that Muslim visitors can feel comfortable.
Halal marketing in Muslim-friendly tourism is indicated by several practices. According to the GMTI-2023 report, such practices include targeted marketing, communication proficiency, destination marketing, and stakeholder awareness. The overall marketing performance is determined by the scores under all these aspects and the ranking is done accordingly. The figure below illustrates the top 10 countries in halal marketing practices globally.
Targeted marketing using AI to meet Muslim travellers' demands is crucial to Muslim-friendly tourism which has become a pivotal strategy. Businesses may target this rising group with personalized experiences and sophisticated marketing. AI helps companies discover and comprehend particular client demographics, allowing them to satisfy Muslim travelers' cultural and religious needs. This strategy boosts engagement and conversions and shows a destination or business's cultural awareness.
Destinations that seize the opportunity to enhance connectivity, implement impactful marketing campaigns, and upgrade facilities create an environment that caters to the distinct needs of Muslim travelers. The ACES (Access, Communication, Environment, and Service) framework of GMTI emphasizes the importance of effective destination marketing, assessing how destinations promote Muslim-friendly services through comprehensive information, dedicated Halal travel guides, media exposure, and promotional campaigns. The top ten countries in all three aspects (communication proficiency, destination marketing, and stakeholder awareness), including Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Singapore, and Jordan, serve as examples of destinations excelling in engaging the Muslim market. However, the average score suggests room for improvement, indicating a need for many destinations to communicate better their offerings that cater to Muslim travelers.
The examples of best practices in destination marketing for Halal tourism highlight a proactive and inclusive approach by various tourism authorities. Malaga's tourism authorities, in collaboration with HalalTrip, exemplify this commitment through their marketing campaign titled “The Jewel of Spain” showcasing the city as a popular destination for Muslim travelers. Similarly, the efforts of the Singapore Tourism Board and New York City Tourism, collaborating with Crescentrating & HalalTrip to launch Halal Travel guides in 2021 and 2022 respectively, showcase a global trend towards tailored information for Muslim travelers.
Furthermore, a noteworthy emphasis on marketing destinations as Muslim women-friendly. Recognizing the importance of inclusivity, destinations like Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and many more are investing in marketing campaigns to raise awareness among Muslim travelers, acknowledging the diverse needs of this demographic. Simultaneously, Japan stands out for its commitment to responsible tourism practices through education and awareness campaigns.
These examples collectively underscore the transformative potential of destination marketing in catering to the specific needs of Muslim travelers while fostering inclusivity and sustainability.
The introduction of the Mastercard-CrescentRating HIT Awards marks a significant milestone in recognizing excellence in Halal marketing within the global tourism industry. The new category, "Destination Marketing & Stakeholder Awareness of the Year," for May 2024 emphasizes the significance of marketing and stakeholder participation in promoting Halal-friendly places.
Moreover, the 2023 "Halal Travel Marketing Campaign of the Year" award recognizes Málaga, Spain's accomplishment. In addition, Indonesia won “Stakeholder Awareness Campaign of the Year” and Malaysia's “Muslim Women-friendly Destination of the Year” in 2023.
To conclude, innovative marketing strategies and enhanced awareness of Muslim tourists' demands will revolutionize Halal marketing in tourism. Inclusive tourism experiences are crucial to the global travel business when places like Málaga win awards for their Halal travel marketing strategies. The Mastercard-CrescentRating HIT Awards play a pivotal role in recognizing and celebrating the excellence in Halal marketing, emphasizing the importance of destination marketing, stakeholder awareness, and innovative campaigns. As the industry embraces AI tools for targeted marketing and destinations invest in Muslim-friendly services, the landscape is evolving to better cater to the growing demographic of Muslim travelers. This shift not only promotes cultural understanding but also fosters economic growth, positioning Halal marketing at the forefront of a more inclusive and sustainable future for global tourism.
For a broader insight on the Halal Travel Market, please check out the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 on this link here!